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Obama Increases Budget For NIST's Tech Efforts

"It's a historic investment in IT-related technologies," said National Institute of Standards and Technology director Patrick Gallagher.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which plays a key role in federal IT research and development and standards setting, continues to be a winner under the Obama administration's budgets. The administration's $1.0 billion fiscal 2012 budget request represents an 8.9% increase over last year's request and a 16.9% increase over 2010 appropriations.

"The NIST mission is well-aligned with the President's goal of driving economic growth through innovation, and it's in that context that we've seen increases in the programs," NIST director Patrick Gallagher said in an interview with InformationWeek, calling the proposed budget increases "sizable."

While NIST's increases are somewhat spread across the board, a portion of the budget increases come from new and scaled up IT research, development, and standards efforts. "It's a historic investment in IT-related technologies for NIST," Gallagher said.

For example, NIST's cybersecurity research, development, and standards get a $43.4 million increase under the new budget. NIST has increasingly taken on a key cybersecurity role in government, but "the list of things NIST was being asked to support was almost outstripping our budget to support it," Gallagher said.

The biggest chunk of the new budget ($24.5 million) would go to support the new program office for the Obama administration's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace effort, which aims to encourage the development and adoption of identity and authentication technologies and standards.

As part of the President's new Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative, which would reallocate 500 megahertz of spectrum over the next 10 years, NIST would receive $100 million annually over five years for the Public Safety Innovation Fund. That would let NIST work with industry and public sector partners to research, develop, and demonstrate new public safety networking and communications tech. That budget would be funded by spectrum auctions.

NIST is also looking for an a boost of $22.8 million for another tech-focused effort, Interoperability Standards for Emerging Technologies, which would continue investment in developing standards for smart grid interoperability, health IT, cloud computing and other emerging tech. As part of the cloud computing work, NIST would develop a strategy and roadmap for cloud adoption in the federal government.

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